Why Are There So Many Apothecaries in Germany?

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If you travel through Germany, and come across an apothecary, you may end up with the feeling after looking around, that you see nothing if not for many, many more around you.  While some (mostly the people working in them) will claim that Germany has comparatively few versus the rest of Europe, it definitely seems that there's more than in the U.S..  How does this happen?

In Germany, most pharmacies only sell a limited amount of products focusing instead primarily on prescriptions, over the counter medications and supplements.  One might assume that this would mean that they have a harder time maintaining profitability, particularly considering how small many of them are (it's not uncommon for an apothecary to fill the space that would typically account for the entire prescriptions counter area at an American chain pharmacy).  However, in Germany, due to how the prescription pricing is setup by law, the amount of money that the apothecaries make on each prescription filled is fixed, as is the amount that can be charged to patients, meaning price competition is not a factor in selecting one to go to.

The feeling of seeing so many apothecaries in Germany is added to by the clustering which is present in most cities, which results in several being found together even in relatively low population residential areas.  Given that they stand to make the same amount per script filled, it is less difficult for them to draw enough business to keep themselves open, in comparison to an American pharmacy, which is also working hard to sell itself as something of an all-in-one store, selling everything from snacks to games to supplements as well as prescriptions.